Eat smart, save food: Feed the hungry

One part of our world doesn’t have enough to eat while the others are overeating and throwing away food. At home, we do not finish the food, if we do not like it and throw it away. In the party, we take food as much as we can and do not finish the food and throw it away

The way we eat shows not only our type of personality but also reflects our culture and gives an impression of how much sensible and civilized we are. In some parts of the world it is considered civilized when one doesn’t finish the food and leaves some on the plate. In other parts of the world due to ignorance a lot of food goes to waste. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, more than one billion tons, more than a third of the total of food produced, are wasted every year while eight hundred and fifteen million people still suffer from chronic hunger.

One part of our world doesn’t have enough to eat while the  other parts are overeating and throwing away food. At home, we do not finish the food, if we do not like it and throw it away. In the party, we take food as much as we can and do not finish the food and throw it away. In the restaurant, we order more than what we can eat and throw away the leftovers. This is not only wasting food but also increasing the waste making it difficult to handle.

If we think on time and be a bit sensible and responsible, we can save a lot of food, which in turn can feed millions of hungry people. If we try some simple techniques, we can reduce the food waste and save food. The techniques are very easy to follow and make a lot of difference in our and others’ lives.

In doing so, we can start from smaller portions at home, in the restaurants as well as in the parties. We can take a smaller portion of food at first and go back again for more, if still not full. Even for the kids, it’s good to serve smaller portion, then serve more if needed. Then, utilizing leftover is another way of reducing food waste. If we do not finish the food, we can save it for the next meal. Sometimes, the leftovers taste even better if we pay a little more attention for preparing them. The fried rice prepared from leftover rice tastes better if prepared by adding some eggs, minced meat, veggies like green peas, carrots, tomatoes, onions and others.

Now-a-days we have many supermarkets and they sell a lot of varieties of foods. While choosing the perishable foods like meat, fish, dairy, fruits and vegetables, it’s better to plan ahead and buy whatever can be finished in the next few days.  Buying more than needed is the source of food waste. Planning ahead and buying what we need can save food from wastage. When it comes to buying fruits and vegetables, we normally go for the regular ones, big ones. Nobody wants the odd shaped and small ones, which results in them being wasted. These small and irregular or odd shaped fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional value as the regular ones. It’s, therefore, wise to go for an average or mixed size and shape of the fruits and vegetables, which saves the food which otherwise will be wasted.

Normally, we store the fresh and cooked foods in the refrigerator. When we do not pay enough attention on how to store them properly, these foods go to waste. Sometimes, we keep them in the refrigerator and forget it and when we remember, we find it already spoiled. The temperature of the refrigerator, regular defrosting the deep freezer and keeping different foods in appropriate section of the refrigerator are some of the important aspects for keeping stored foods fresh. Most of us think that more ice in the deep freezer is better for storage. In fact, this is just the opposite and there should be  less ice  for getting the lower temperature. It’s advised to store cooked foods in tight containers in order to avoid cross contamination. Hence, keeping an eye regularly on our refrigerators helps us reduce the food waste.

It’s very important to finish the food bought first. Even in the refrigerator or in the cupboard, we should keep the food last bought or having more time for expiry date at the back and vice versa. This rotation of foods gives us ample time for consumption and hence saves them from going to waste.

Different foods come with different shelf life. It’s very important to look at the “expiry” or “best before” or “consume by” dates for consuming these foods when they are still fresh. Otherwise, they can go unnoticed and go bad already and causing food waste. The message here is – “read the dates” to avoid waste.

Some of the food wastes are unavoidable. The peels of the fruits and vegetables are examples. These and other organic materials go to waste and account for the major portion of  urban waste. It takes a lot of energy and resources for collecting and managing these wastes. It’s good to set up a compost bin at home so that it provides organic manure for the vegetables, fruits and flowers of our garden and also make our environment clean and green. If the food is near to spoilage but still fresh and we don’t think we can consume it, we can share it with the needy ones. There are programmes like feeding the street children. We can also share foods with the orphanages so that we can not only reduce the food waste but also increase the feeling of love and caring in our society. Remember- sharing is caring, help feed the hungry.

Let’s be smart, eat smart and teach our kids to eat smart so that we can save enough food to feed the hungry of our community, of our country and of the world.

Wasti is senior food research officer, Department Food Technology and Quality Control